The United States announced yesterday a possible attack by Chinese hackers, who would have attacked companies in a dozen countries on behalf of Beijing. The Trump government insisted once again on its determination to fight against “the economic aggression” of the Asian giant and asked for responsibility in its digital actions.
Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong are two of the alleged hackers associated with the Chinese government who are accused of committing computer intrusions and fraud. According to the indictment, the men are part of a group known as APT 10, which operates from China “in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security,” the United States Department of Justice said.
Between 2006 and 2018, that group led “a global computer intrusion campaign” to steal confidential data and trade secrets from 45 companies in 12 countries, including the United States, France, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.
They pointed particularly to specialized service companies that manage remote IT services from other companies or organizations, which is also known as Managed Service Provider (MSP). Among its victims is a global financial institution, three telecommunications companies, a supplier of auto parts.
“It is simply deception and theft, and that gives China an unfair advantage at the expense of companies from countries that respect international rules,” Rod Rosenstein, number two of the Justice Department, told a news conference.
“It will be difficult for China to ensure that it is not responsible” for these attacks, now that the United States has issued a very precise and detailed indictment, he added. No country represents “such a heavy and prolonged threat” as China, said FBI director Christopher Wray. According to him, China wants to replace the United States as the world’s leading power.
The Asian giant called the allegations defamatory and filed a new formal complaint with the Trump government. “We urge the US to immediately correct these defamatory accusations, which severely violate the basic norms that govern international relations and are seriously damaging to bilateral ties,” the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua said today. Chunying at a press conference in Beijing.
Also, Hua returned the accusation and assured that it is Washington who is behind multiple attacks of this type, before which China “will take the necessary measures” to safeguard its own cybersecurity and interests.
“It is an open secret that the United States is launching follow-up campaigns to observe governments, companies and individuals from other countries,” Hua said, something China will “never accept.”
Republican President Donald Trump made a remarkable rapprochement with Beijing and its president Xi Jinping at the start of his term in 2017, but since then bilateral relations have experienced ups and downs and have recently ceased their trade war.
In spite of that, Washington does not stop accusing Peking of having broken a pact of non-espionage signed in 2015 with former US President Barack Obama. “Our relationship with China is complicated, they conduct espionage and influence operations here in the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently declared.
According to the US government, approximately 90% of the cases of economic espionage that have been under investigation for the past seven years and two-thirds of the cases of theft of trade secrets involve Beijing. The indictments of the two Chinese pirates, therefore, are nothing new.
At the end of October, ten Chinese citizens were accused by the US justice system of espionage against aviation companies in France and the United States.
But it was not a matter of economic espionage that has most compromised the relationship between the two countries recently on December 1, the daughter of the founder of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States. Meng Wanzhou, 46, is suspected of fraud to evade US sanctions against Iran. Released on bail, Washington asks for his extradition.